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The Rachel Maddow Show

News/Business. (2011)

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America 27, Libya 25, Gadhafi 16, U.s. 14, Us 13, United States 13, California 8, Cairo 5, Obama Administration 4, George W. Bush 4, Islam 4, Kasich 3, Ohio 3, Obama 3, Narrative 2, Pentagon 2, John Kasich 2, Ayman Mohyeldin 2, Moammar Gadhafi 2, Yemen 2,
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  MSNBC    The Rachel Maddow Show    News/Business.  (2011)  

    March 23, 2011
    4:00 - 5:00am EDT  

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prove to us it is because of rape or incest. do you have a receipt and do you have a police report? that's how crazy this is. >> david, we have to go. david corn of mother jones. thank you for joining us. >> thank you, lawrence. you can have the last word online at our blog. follow my tweets at lawrence. "the rachel maddow show" is up next. good evening, rachel. good evening. thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. happy birthday to the arab { league. on this day in 1945 at the end of world war ii, the arab league was founded in cairo. today, the arab league is part of a coalition of the not so willing that is participating in a military intervention in the arab state of libya. in modern military interventions and wars, there have been a number of coalitions of the not so willing. in george w. bush's iraq war, we used to call it the coalition of the billing, since that was at a high price to taxpayers. what's difference of the coalition of the not-so-willing
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in libya, the united states is not just taking part in rounding up the coalition here, the united states is among the countries who are very happy toç have it be known that we're only barely willing to be participating in this ourselves. >> we will continue to support the efforts to protect the libyan people, but we will not be in the lead when this transition takes place. it is not going to be our planes that are maintaining the no-fly zone. it is not going to be our ships that are necessarily involved in enforcing the arms embargo. that's precisely what the other coalition partners are going to do. >> the message is clear. we are here to help, but this is very much not an american war. listening to president obama, the united states is a reluctant
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participant in this. and it is not just his words that broadcast that message. all his actions telegraph that as well. the united states flew the majority of air missions at the start of the operation. now that is no longer the case. the proportion of missions flown by coalition countries is on the rise. today, the obama administration successfully pushed to get nato more involved in the military command and control operations, again replacing the u.s. a senior u.s. official telling reporters that more{ arab nations are expected to contribute to the no-fly zone in the next several days. the obama administration is doing everything it can to keep the american role here as low profile as possible. the consequences of that strategy at home look like this. at politico.com, sarkozy's war. sarkozy, he's french. everybody freak out. and a part of the american right that never met a military intervention they did not like is loudly upset at the lack of presidential chest thumping.
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they want him in a flight suit, fake landing a fighter jet, preferably with cinched up straps around the crotch. the weekly standard ran an ç editorial today which i do not think was sarcastic. they wrote president obama is taking us to war in another muslim country. good for him. not sarcastic, at least i don't think so. after noting concerns about perceptions the u.s. was in vading another muslim country, bill kristol at the weekly standard wrote rubbish. that's how they talk at the weekly standard. our invasions, he wrote, have been liberations. the weekly standard says libya will be america's fifth war of muslim liberation. they even posted alongside this editorial this portrait of the
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american revolutionary war. i am not sure of the exact analogy. when you think about it, the american colonial rebels are, maybe, they are benghazi, in which case the u.s. intervening in libya is like, like, yeah, okay, the analogy doesn't make sense at all. still, you get the idea. a noble image. libya already america's fifth war of muslim liberation. and that, that triumveret claim is from the right. that is why president obama is doing what he is doing the way he is doing it in libya. it is the overarching america in the world challenge of the obama presidency. it is the overall america in the world challenge of all americans
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after the george w. bush era. this image, still promoted by the american right, even now, that the u.s. is stomping around the muslim world, imposing our desires on those savage people because frankly we know better. that is the narrative of america in the world in the 21st century. the narrative.9e/i that's what moammar gadhafi is arguing to other countries to try to stop them from taking sides against him. the narrative. what mobs of pakistanis were shouting about.ç the narrative, al qaeda's fundamental recruiting line. it is hard to approach somebody in the world, say hey, we think you ought to kill yourself for our cause we can't explain in polite company. you don't start them off on that. you start off recruiting with the narrative. >> that america is waging a war against islam, invaded iraq because it hates muslims, invaded afghanistan because it hates muslims and that the only way to stop the war is for muslims to stop fighting back on all fronts against the west. >> that was former muslim extremist explaining on 60
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minutes what the narrative is and how terrorists use it to attract new recruits. america waging war on islam, invading because they hate muslims. america doing for its own self interest, despite what muslims want and how they might self define. the narrative didn't come from the george w. bush presidency. american intervention in muslim countries has been exploited for propaganda value and used to make a case, long before afghanistan. the narrative got that much worse when in addition to all of that, we had a president who was the guy in the flight suit talking about the crusades. >> and the american people are beginning to understand, this crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take awhile. >> that narrative of the crusades, of america as the great enemy of muslims, as a declared combat and the in a
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religious war in which muslim citizens around the world must defend themselves from an american army, america is imposing its will on muslim lands. that is the narrative that barack obama said as president he would try to change. president obama was inaugurated and by june, he was already in cairo making his big picture seek a new beginning between the united states and muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect. and one based upon the truth that america and islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. instead, they overlap. and share common principles. there's so much fear, so much mistrust that has built up over the years.
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but if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward. >> this is the big foreign policy idea of the obama presidency. hitting the reset "the curious hitting the reset button on america's relations with the muslim world. undoing forever the narrative that america big foots the middle east and muslim people whenever we feel it is in our own interests. then into the first term of that presidency falls moammar gadhafi, and his bloody military suppression of a popular uprising against him in libya. so alongside the commitment to changing the big narrative about america imposing its will by force in the muslim world, president obama commits to military action to stop gadhafi, but also commits overtly over and over to keeping the u.s. role to that of a participant,
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not a leader. to define us as one country among many in the international community, including some muslim countries concerned enough with gadhafi to take action to stop him. we are part of the coalition, but we are not -- well, we are part of a not so willing part of it? can you say that? president obama is making short term decisions about american actions based on a long term goal of redefining america's role in the world, so we are not perceived as being at war with islam. so no matter what the weekly ç standard wants, when kids in cairo, benghazi or west bank get that recruitment pitch about the west throwing its weight around, disrespecting muslims, that recruiting pitch does not ring true, so it doesn't stick. but how libya works out in the end will ultimately depend on if the president is successful. if gadhafi is toppled by his own people and the international community is seen as playing a protective role, not an imperialist one, not aggressive one, then not only is gadhafi gone, but the arab world takes another step towards self determination and america takes
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another hit. if gadhafi stays and this intervention drags on, and american leadership is not something that can be handed off, something for which there isn't a military substitute, then the president will have paid all the domestic political cost for having done this thing this way, having foregone the chest thumping everybody expects from the president. he will have paid that cost and gotten none of the benefit and america's role in the world changing. good luck. joining us now, ayman mohyeldin, back from months of reporting on the uprising in egypt that{ frankly and justifiably made him world famous. thank you for being here. >> thank you for having me. >> i don't want anybody to assume you agree with what i just said because you were sitting here while i said it. let me ask you for your reaction to that idea that there is a master narrative like that about america's role in the muslim world, and that president obama seems to want to try to change it. >> well, you know, if i had to
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take a look at when president obama gave his speech, had that speech been last week or a few days before all of these revolutions were kicking off in the arab world, i would say the timing of that speech, followed by some of the events of the past few days would certainly kind of give credit or perhaps lend credit to the notion that america is genuine about resetting its policies in the middle east. the sad reality is there was actually a two-year gap during which we were actually able to ç see president obama's foreign policy play out in the middle east, and i can tell you from being in the middle east, ordinary arabs across the divide are not convinced by the speech that he gave in cairo, and subsequently by the actions about the united states wanting to change its policies towards the arab world and muslim world. what makes it more tragic in libya, in the eyes of some, this is a situation where there's a convergence of interests between what the united states wants and what a big portion of the arab world wants. they want the ousting of gadhafi. here is a situation where it would be a convergence of
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interest that would work to enhancing america's reputation. but unfortunately because of those years and the large military footprint america has in the region, that genuine intention perhaps is being lost. america has spent so much of its currency and credibility in the arab world over the years, it simply does not have it at this stage to convince ordinary arabs that what we are doing is for good cause, not for imperialist reasons. >> no matter the america taking the back seat strategy that the president puts on this because of years past, this will still largely be seen as america big footing the middle east? >> i think for two reasons. one, if we were to be critical and say would this military intervention have happened if the number one resource in libya
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that america could benefit from, say bananas, not oil, would we be in this situation. that's one. and two, because there has been such a large military footprint of the united states in supporting so many of these regimes, it is difficult to believe the united states is essentially going to change on a dime and completely go 180 degrees and stop supporting many of the regimes. i think this is the problem we're facing, particularly from u.s. foreign policy perspective. the united states lost that credibility. it has to restore it. it can in libya to some extent. the scope of the military will there be boots on the ground, are we going to see longevity. in terms of libyans and what they want for their future, what kind of role the united states plays cannery establish the confidence in the arab world. >> we simultaneously have things going on of incredible drama, incredible significance in countries like bahrain, yemen.
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are those, i mean, are those questions also called the prospect of intervention in those places, is that prospect being raised because of the u.s. intervention in libya? >> every arab leader and chief asnghes ha i no-fly zone imposed over me if the situation boils over. could i see western military forces pounding my country, and the{ reality of it is this is what we heard from the two regimes that fell before gadhafi. they used the scare tactic as they've been calling it. scare the west. if this happens, if i step down, if i step out, you're going to get chaos, insecurity and get al qaeda, but at the same time, they use the scare tactic with their own people by telling them i have been an arab leader, you are now getting western imperialism. this is what was said in yemen.
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he said it was a coup being hatched from washington. it shows the leaders are in difficult positions, there is a disconnect between the reality and what's said in terms of rhetoric. >> everybody selling the foundational myth of choice to advance their position. ayman mohyeldin, from al jazeera. your work from cairo, you being on air what you were able to report for al jazeera english was a huge advantage. i want to thank you for that. >> thanks for having me. in domestic politics, the last election was all about ç jobs, right? jobs and the economy, budgets. now that the people elected in that jobs economy budget election had a few months to get down to work, though, it turns out when you said jobs, the economy, the budget, what they heard was abortion, abortion, abortion. it is the worst game of telephone ever. that's coming up. @@
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if you have a hard time walking and getting around
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.
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at intense times like this, the best way to keep the news from freaking you out, everybody freak out, is to do what you need to do to understand the things in the news proving to be so scary. information is like a vaccine against fear. so, for example, with japan, can you understand why a big tsunami might lead to a nuclear accident? yes, you can. can you understand what a nuclear meltdown really is, how it works? yes, you can. turns out, even if you sucked as physics. can that understanding of those
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things help us all realize that if you live in california, you really do not need to be taking potassium iodine pills now? yes, yes, and yes. another thing that freaks us out understandably, but about which information can be a helpful fear vaccine is terrorism. there have been a lot of different terrorist organizations that posed a lot of different threats to a lot of different countries over time. when the rand corporation a couple years ago did a big study of hundreds of terrorist groups in different countries and how the groups came to an end, that provided a useful way to think about al qaeda, as not just the cingular unknowable group that attacked us on 9-11, but as one of many groups that tried over time by force. if you understand how terrorist try to get their way by force and how they've been defeated in other contexts, it is easier to come up with other good time-tested strategy to use against the groups. it doesn't exactly make you feel better, but it does reduce the freak out factor and promotes
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rational thinking about real problems. there's a reason people study this, because it helps. as we embark on another military campaign in the middle east, do we know enough about america at war to be able to look at libya, to be able to look at this in a broader context, make smart predictions about how this is likely to work out. about what might increase or decrease chances for success here, however that's defined. there have been over a hundred military actions in my lifetime that resulted in presidential notification to congress. using that from all the previous wars, can we make a calm, cool, collected assessment about how this war is likely to end? my next guest says we can. he wrote the book on this, which is called "how wars end." what he says about how this is likely to end for president gadhafi and president obama will probably surprise you.
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that's next.
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president obama promised from the outset there would be no u.s. ground troops involved in libya. >> i also want to be clear about what we will not be doing. the united states is not going to deploy ground troops into libya. >> that was not only a promise from the american president, it was also an explicit condition of the u.n. vote for all other
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countries to intervene, no ground troops, no foreign boots on the ground. easier said than done. we woke up to necessary an american plane crashed in eastern libya. they said it crashed because of mechanical failure, not because shot down. when the plane's two crewmen ejected before it crashed, what we got inadvertently is american boots on the ground in libya, quickly followed by more as u.s. search and rescue landed more troops on libyan soil to collect that crew from the crashed f-15. that led to disputed reports that the search and rescue team had shot libyan civilians to find and extract the two u.s. crewmen from the crashed plane. the plan was for zero american boots on the ground, but that sort of plan is hard to guarantee. similarly, the time horizon. president obama promised that u.s. military leadership in libya will be of short duration. >> let me emphasize that we anticipate this transition to
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take place in a matter of days, not a matter of weeks. >> it is clearer than clear that the united states does not want to be leading this intervention in libya, that our government is eager to hand off the lead role to other countries. we want to be a participant in the operation, not the spearhead. the president keeps saying so over and over again. but why is it we have been its spearhead so far, given the president's stated reluctance to have america dragged into this fight, particularly in a leading role, why has the pentagon's africa command been helming operational command essentially of this international mission? it's because of this international mission's complexity, because we are at war in often multi lateral wars involving significant air power for essentially a solid decade now. because our military is not only actively experienced in stuff like this, we spend more on the military than any other country combined. if it is a big, complex military operation and the united states is involved, it is hard to imagine the united states not
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being in charge. do we realistically think that's not going to change? the president and the pentagon said they want that to change, don't want to stay in charge. if days turn into weeks, if gadhafi is not toppled any time soon, why would we think this is going to be less complicated, why do we think there is less necessity for the united states to play a lead and coordinating role? joining us now, gideon rose, author of how wars end, why we always fight the last battle. thank you for coming in. >> thank you for having me. >> what is the most likely way that this intervention in libya ends? do you think gadhafi end up staying in power or going? >> first of all, it depends on us. second of all, depends on the libyans. the people the obama administration seems to think it depends on are the other{ allied members of the coalition are probably the weakest reed. i am not sure what they're smoking if they think we can
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back off and something actually gets done. that's puzzling. >> the military power of the other people involved. >> essentially at this point, there are only three options. either we climb down from our goals and let gadhafi come back and take over, which we are probably not going to do, it would be humiliating, devastating, and contrary to why we went in in the first place, or we achieve the initial mission to protect the rebel areas in the eastern part of the country, but not go for regime change. and regime change doesn't occur on its own, in which case we have a set of protracted stalemate. this gets harried over a long period of time. or whether local forces can do it, whether we oral -- or allies do it, either it stays backward, stays like it is now, or goes forward. all three options are not good. the happy talk coming out of the administration at this point is
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mind boggling to me. i just don't see why they think this is not going to be a big deal in any of the three courses of action. >> i don't see it as happy talk, i see it as low expectations, we're not going to lead an expanding large scale effort here. >> that's happy talk because the implication is, we can avoid doing those things and not have chaos or problems. >> see, i feel, i guess i'm hearing it different than you are. i feel warnings about continued chaos and problems, because nobody has anything nice to say about post gadhafi libya, nobody talks about what paradise it will be when the rebels take over the presidential tent. nobody is talking about that. >> that's interesting you say
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that. i have a good friend that feels the same way. i{ think they're kidding themselves if they think having done this operation they can walk away with libya in chaos. i don't worry so much that the rebels will turn into bad guys once they take over from gadhafi, i worry post gadhafi allows chaos. in iraq, the case study how not to plan a war for the post war era, you get to baghdad and like robert redford in the candidate and say what do we do now. it is like the dog catching the car. what do we do with libya. we now effectively own libya or the coalition does. and if you don't have a plan for putting something in place, you can't just walk away, let it be civil war or chaos. obama administration seems to think gee, we said we'd do this, that's all we're doing, now we are going to go focus on something else. i think they will be unable to do what they seem to believe
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they can do. >> isn't that the effort to try to put somebody like france, you want to go first, go first. to try to get other countries involved. in essence, isn't that trying to set up those countries as being as responsible or more responsible for post gadhafi chaos than we will be? >> it is trying. but whether it wilsucceed, we don't know. there's an old lawyer's expression, never ask a question in court when you don't know the answer. we're basically asking ourselves whether the allies will be able to step up and handle things on their own, and it is a very open question. >> thinking about the prospect of post gadhafi libya, i've been thinking about post saddam and iraq as well, and of course, we're still there. is there a way to make peace keeping and stability operations, particularly in a country where there are no institutions of state beyond gadhafi's circle. is there a way to make peace keeping and stability operations
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something other than what looks like war. is there any institution capable of doing that outside the u.s. which really doesn't want to do it? >> yes and no. it is fundamentally a question of political order. we think of politics as different from force and war, but in fact, the power{ of the state over its citizens, the police are not soldiers, they're police, but they have the power of the state behind them. the establishment of some quasi political movement on the ground, that was the big problem in iraq. who would suppn will be can you generate some kind of local political order, or can it be provided from the outside in a relatively benign way with international forces, with nonviolent means. we'll see. this is a big experiment. the idea this was basically decide last week in a couple of meetings in between other things without any kind of domestic participation, it is mind boggling.
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>> while being accused of dithering, taking to long putting this together. >> you got it right earlier in the comment you said they didn't want to do this and they still don't want to jump 180 degrees into the old narrative, so they are doing it in a back handed, hesitant way, all the while claiming that's not what we're doing. there's certain logic of interventions themselves. we are now involved in libya's civil war. the fact we say we are not, it is humanitarian, the fact we say we are going to back off, that conflicts with the substantive logic of the mission we're now engaged in. >> and highlights why they are trying to say it is not in the lead politically. gideon rose, i have been wanting to talk to you about this since we started to realize what was happening here. i am glad you came in. >> thank you very much. with crises around the world, things are being reported totally backwards in the beltway press. note to my colleagues in the news business, making the budget
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worse than it was does not count as you fixing the budget, unless you mean fixing the budget the way you mean fixing your pet cat. we will enlist no actual cats, but instead the astonishing governor of ohio to show how everybody keeps getting this story exactly wrong. that's when we come back. first, one more thing about the u.s. operation in libya. as you can see on this map, the pentagon has divided the world into regional responsibilities. north com is north america, south com is south america. north ease is cent com. africa, where is the africom headed? in germany. naturally, it's there.
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in south dakota, republican dennis due guard signed the most draconian anti-abortion bill like he said he would. never mind the $4 million the state may have to spend to
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defend that law in court. south dakota requires women to wait 72 hours from when they see a provider to when they are actually allowed by the state to have an abortion. that's the longest waiting period in the country. it forces women to consult with a pregnancy crisis center before they are allowed to move forward as well. for those of you that never heard of a pregnancy crisis center, they are essentially fake quack medical clinics run by abortion opponents. they are usually designed to make women think they are against facilities that provide abortions. one pregnancy crisis center in south dakota gives this description of the morning after pill. quote, the tiny baby will die. now the government of the state of south dakota will be big enough it will mandate, it will force women to go to a quack counseling center that will tell them things like that before they are allowed to see an actual doctor.
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south dakota wins the prize for big government conservativism big new extreme law. sounds like a competition. we asked somebody for a list of states where abortion rights are at risk. the list she gave us looks like this. 24 states with bills designed to make it almost impossible for abortion clinics to operator that restrict insurance coverage or ban abortion outright after 20 weeks, or at some point after you reasonably know you are pregnant at all. in congress, the same deal. republicans took control in november, then spent the winter talking about abortion bills. they defund planned parenthood because that makes sense when you try to prevent unplanned pregnancies. this is what republicans are doing wherever they have{ taken over in the states or the nation's capitol. what did you think the 2010 elections were about?
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did you think the 2010 elections were about jobs? the republicans that got elected in overwhelming numbers in the elections did not think they were elected because of jobs. they thought they were elected to crackdown on access to abortion and abortion rights. that must be it. because for politicians that are supposedly in such a rush to fix the economy, these guys have a ton of time on their hands to worry about monitoring every last pregnancy in america, among other things that have nothing to do with creating jobs. more on that in a moment. if you want to buy booze in
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if you want to buy booze in the great state of ohio, anything more than 42 proof, you have to buy it from a state liquor store. lots of states do that. in ohio, that arrangement brought in a profit of $229 million. a record. ohioans are drinking more than ever, and it is great for the bottom line. $229 million from selling booze in ohio. butt bottoms up, ohio. because they are broke, have a budget deficit, john kasich has apparently decided to give away that funding stream.
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wait, what? this is the sort of thing that's happening all around the country. it is like finding out your family finances are in trouble, and asking your boss to lower your salary. ohio makes nearly $230 million from state-run liquor stores. governor kasich, pleading poverty, says the state should take that money and instead give it away to businesses. i feel like the politics around what's going on with republicans in the states right now is being conducted in english and reported in another language. i do not understand why the national reporting on this continues to be so back ass wards. john kasich in ohio, rick snyder in michigan, all the republican governors and legislators keep pleading poverty, saying how broke the states are. then the proposed solutions to the problem of how broke they are is to make the state more
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broke, to make the budgets worse. think about this for a second. for all of ohio's budget troubles, one bright spot is that ohio had an income stream of nearly $230 million last year from booze to help pay for the state's needs. governor kasich is trying to get rid of that bright spot. governor kasich is trying to get rid of that black ink in the state budget and instead give it away. it does not make ohio's budget problems better, it makes them worse. it is not a means of closing the budget gap, this is a means of taking a whole that exists in the budget gap and blast tg into an expanse in the budget. anybody that reports that republican governors and legislators are taking drastic measures to close the state budget gaps is not reporting there truthfully. in new jersey where cuts to education last year were ruled
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unconstitutional today. in new jersey the justification for the cuts was that new jersey is broke. what does the governor want to do to fix that problem of new jersey being broke? he wants the state to spend $200 million a year that it is not spending already to cut taxes on estates and corporations. in arizona, governor brewer said people on the transplant list have to die because the state can't afford the organs, saying the state is that broke. governor brewer thinks the state can somehow afford to spent $538 million over the next six years on tax cuts, with fully half of that money from totally broke arizona being spent on corporate tax cuts. for all of the pleading poverty these governors and republican legislators are doing, they found a lot of money in state budgets to spend on some specific beneficiaries. again, i don't know why it is not being reported this way. maybe it is because the word profligate is hard to pronounce
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and hard to spell. honestly, i don't know. joining us now, a man who can both spell and pronounce profligate, ezra klein. >> i am glad to be here, but not after a couple{ of visits to the ohio liquor store. >> why is it a secret that giant multi million dollar tax cuts make budgets worse, not better. why is that a national secret in 2011? >> it is a triumph of will over numbers. there is, i think you can say there are two things going on here. one, i think there is a long-standing assumption in the press core that the republicans care about deficits more than the democrats do. this has to do with the fact republicans use deficit more than democrats do. it is not dented by the fact that democrats in recent years managed to actually balance the budget or republicans under george w. bush managed to
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explode. that is one bucket of it. the other is every time you ask republicans about it, they say wait for us. they say we're bringing out the months. then we'll show you how to balance everything, how to deal with entitlements so there has been a bit of a wait-and-see approach. on the state level where the budgets are already coming out we have waited and we are seeing and they do not look good. they look like an enormous amount of tax cuts that are being paid for on the backs of in many cases the poor. >> what is interesting, too, is that republicans also get credit for being super anti-tax but in many of these republican states that are giving away these huge budget busting tax cuts to corporations and to the wealthy, for example, with the state taxes, we are also seeing republican legislatures and republican governors proposing raising taxes on the poor. in georgia they are proposing raising taxes on blind people. in michigan they are raising taxes specifically on the elderly and the poorest people in the states. but yet they are still getting credit for being anti-tax zealots. do we have class based
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distinctions in the way we understand the word "tax" maybe? >> this goes to a very serious part of the republican economic philosophy right now which is that what you want to do to get economies back ontrack is lower taxes on, quote-unquote the most productive members of society, not the people who spend money, which is what democrats want to do. they figure you give the tax cut to somebody who needs to make ends meet. they want to give it to money who have a lot of money under the theory if you give them more of an incentive to work because now they'll be able to make even more money they will sort of work their magic on the economy and it will rebound. i don't think the data really bears this out, but it's an important distinction. they're not just for low taxes. they are specifically for low taxes on the rich under a sort of randian philosophy that the rich are the ones who drive economic growth in this country. >> haven't we seen a bit of experimentation with that as corporate profits have rebounded so much in the last couple of years? i mean, corporate profits have been doing great and, yet, what corporations have been doing
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with that profit is sitting on it. they've not been plowing it back into the kind of investment that would create jobs. isn't that right? >> i wouldn't say this has been a theory very amenable to evidence. in the bush years of course we lowered taxes on the rich dramatically and i don't think says it was a great time. but as you say there was a shifting rationale. it's all about deficits and they want to come in and extend the bush tax cuts at a cost of 4 trillion and then all about reducing uncertainty and now we're here, bigger deficits, a lot of uncertainty, and unclear economic philosophy. >> "the washington post" writer, "newsweek" columnist, msnbc contributor and profligacy pronouncer. thank you for joining us. >> thank you. >> the story of mistakes made at an american nuclear plant that are so outrageous there is no short hand twitter expression appropriate to capture the appropriate reaction with or without the hash mark, next. [ jane ] here's me. and here's my depression.
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when human beings are responsible for things, when humans lay our human hands on them and use our human brains and implement our human ideas with our humanness, there is by definition a possibility for human error. you can say your safety assurances are super human but unless your safety experts are from the planet krypton nothing you as a human can do will ever overcome the possibility of human error. accidents happen. mistakes happen. they happen all the time. and sometimes they happen all the time in the same place. such a place is near an earthquake fault or two and when such a place also plays host to nuclear fission on a regular basis, that's news. here it is. by the year 1970 construction permits have been issued for a new nuclear power plant in
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california. when the utility pacific gas and electric, pg&e, applied for the permits, the company said the site had only insignificant faults that have shown no movement for at least 100,000 and possibly millions of years. construction costs for that assuredly totally nonseismic nuclear plant were estimated to be around $320 million. barely a year later, it's 1971, and a new fault line is discovered offshore less than three miles from the plant's location. humans decide that the site is still well suited for releasing energy from atoms as long as the money spent on construction goes from $320 million to more than $5 billion. slightly less than a 15 fold increase. then by 1981 uh-oh again. turns out that the seismic supports built to deal with that newly discovered offshore fault, we humans built them backwards. literally, we looked at the blue prints the wrong way around. it's like a post modern episode of mr. magoo except nuclear apocalypse is the punch line.
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all of the retrofitting which was done backwards had to be reretrofitted. that would be another $2.2 billion please. flash forward to 2008 and uh-oh again. a new fault discovered less than a mile from the plant. pg&e and the nuclear regulatory commission, they go ahead and decide that the new fault line, no biggy. it'll be fine. but the state energy commission in california begs to differ. the state energy commission says that not enough is known about that new fault line and the plant should do some 3-d seismic mapping to see if things are safe. that was three years ago and, no, they still haven't done the seismic mapping. they have been running the star crossed human error riddled nuclear reactor all along. and then japan happened and when japan happened california's lieutenant governor gavin newsom went on tv to draw attention to the safety short comings at this god forsaken california nuclear plant. then the union of concerned scientists dropped this nonatomic bombshell. turns out after all the safety scares this plant has been through.
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after all the billions and billions of safety upgrades at this plant, turns out that the emergency cooling pumps that are supposed to kick in if anything goes wrong in the reactors or spent fuel pools those pumps were disabled for 18 months. they were nonoperational before anybody noticed. the valves were stuck for a year and a half. nothing approaching an earthquake or tsunami like japan happened during those 18 months but if it had there would have been no backup cooling systems available at this california nuclear plant. after all of that, the geo physicist who is also the california state senator whose district includes this plant is now asking for{ its license to be suspended at least until the updated seismic studies can be finished. that state senator is a republican. did i mention he is a geophysicist? i have long had a theory that people who came before us should be given the benefit of the doubt when they gave names to things that were clearly designed to warn us away from those things. the canyon where california's god forsaken nuclear power plant is located is called diablo